Public Policy Dynamics EU #3

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in the European Union

  • A plenary session in the EU Parliament was held on 8-11 February, discussing the EU’s vaccination strategy to curb the circulation of Covid-19 and fighting poverty through Covid-19 and beyond, and featuring a debate with Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB was asked to take measures to further stimulate the economy, but it was noted that the Winter 2021 Economic Forecast published on 11 February expects the euro area and EU economies to reach their pre-crisis levels of output earlier than anticipated in the Autumn 2020 Economic Forecast. The EU Parliament also approved the €672.5 billion recovery and resilience facility.
  • On 10 February, the EU Commission accepted commitments by Aspen to reduce prices for six off-patent critical cancer medicines by 73 percent, addressing excessive pricing concerns. In addition, Aspen has to ensure the continued supply of these off-patent medicines for a significant period.
  • On 10 February, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen made a speech at the European Parliament Plenary on the state of play of the EU's Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy. The goal of the EU is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population by the end of the summer. She mentioned that lessons must be drawn from the process, and refers to some improvements being made such as the launch of a new European clinical-trial network.

Politics

  • A plenary session in the EU Parliament was held on 8-11 February, with the main discussion topics including the EU’s vaccination strategy to curb the effects of the pandemic, as well as fighting poverty through Covid-19 and beyond. and the plenary also a discussion with Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB).
  • Following this debate with Christine Lagarde, MEPs urged the ECB to consider policy measures different to those currently in place, in order to stimulate the EU economy, which faces darkening prospects as the number of Covid-19 strains proliferate, threatening lengthening lockdowns. The drafted resolution was adopted by 533 votes in favour.
  • Nonetheless, the Winter 2021 Economic Forecast published on 11 February expects the euro area and EU economies to reach their pre-crisis levels of output earlier than anticipated in the Autumn 2020 Economic Forecast. The 2021 forecasts the EU economy will grow by 3.7 percent in 2021 and 3.9 percent in 2022. The economic impact of the pandemic remains uneven across Member States and the speed of the recovery is also projected to vary significantly. The European Commission's next forecast will be the Spring 2021 Economic Forecast in May 2021.
  • On 10 February, the EU Parliament approved the €672.5 billion recovery and resilience facility, representing the biggest building block of the Next Generation EU stimulus package. The €672.5 billion will be in grants and loans to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Findings will support key policy areas such as the green transition, digital transformation, crisis preparedness, and children and youth.

 

Health

  • On 10 February, the EU Commission accepted commitments by Aspen to reduce prices for six off-patent critical cancer medicines by 73 percent, addressing excessive pricing concerns. In addition, Aspen has to ensure the continued supply of these off-patent medicines for a significant period.
  • This follows an investigation started by the Commission in 2017, where the Commission found serious concerns that Aspen's behaviour may be in breach of EU competition rules.
  • Aspen addressed these concerns and proposed a series of adjustments and commitments. A trustee, supervised by the Commission, will be in charge of monitoring the implementation and compliance with the commitments.

 

COVID-19

  • On 10 February, President of the European Commission von der Leyen made a speech at the European Parliament Plenary on the state of play of the EU's COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy.
  • Von der Leyen discussed the different landscape across the EU regarding vaccination rates, but overall stressed the positive fact that over 17 million people across Europe have been vaccinated. The goal of the EU is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population by the end of the summer.
  • Ms Von der Leyen mentioned the need to improve rates to meet the EU’s target, and refers to some delays by the Commission such as the delay with authorisation, and the optimism over mass production. Von der Leyen stressed lessons must be drawn from these for the future.
  • To achieve this improvement, she announced the launch of a new European clinical trial network in order to improve the way data is shared with the European Medicines Agency (EMA), as well as work by Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on a regulatory framework that will enable the EMA to examine vaccines as quickly as possible.

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